Having said that it wasn’t a complete waste of time, Windsor Half Marathon is a great course on the traffic free roads inside Windsor Great Park. The course comprises of a mile up the Long Walk, a first lap of 4 miles, a second lap of 7 miles and finally a mile back down the Long Walk towards Windsor Castle.
I last ran the course in 2001, when I ran 1:42:19, so I was intrigued to see what affect 11 years had had on my fitness, turns out not a lot as I finished in 1:41:40.
So I guess with an improvement of 39 seconds over 11 years that’s the 'Most Improved Strider' trophy lost for another year. Humph! All this celebrating improvement gets a little wearing after a while.
So how did I manage this incredible feat of consistency? Well running with the Striders of course!
Training-wise from a reasonable base fitness I did a couple of months of three runs a week all with the Striders. Tuesday speed sessions; Thursday race pace tempo session; Saturday long slow sessions. I didn’t do any other training. I know we all talk about recovery runs, core strength, and cross training, but for me and for this race I found three sessions a week was a good balance of increasing my fitness and giving myself enough recovery time.
I used the Thursday session to work out my race pace, I found I could do the 8 min mile group okay but struggled to keep up with the 7:30 min mile group. So at Windsor I already knew I needed to keep my pace to between 7:45 and 8:00 to last the race.
For the race itself I broke it down into 3x4 mile sections (maths not being my strong point). I took a time check at 4 miles (30:40) feeling pretty fresh. This gave me confidence that I was running at the right pace so I targeted to get to 8 miles in 62 minutes, took a gel and focused on relaxed running for another half an hour. I was at 8 miles (61:20) feeling pretty tired but pleased that I had finished 2 of my 3 race 'sections'. This helped me focus on the next 4 mile section. I did drift a bit on this one, I reached 12 miles (93:10) but still it left me with a fighting chance of a PB in the last mile, if no idea where Matt was.
As it happened he was a minute or so up the road looking over his shoulder a lot. Oh well! I’ll have to invite him over to Watford in January.